The rise and fall of the Red Road flats

Plus: How qualified is the science and technology select committee?

12 April 2014

9:00 AM

12 April 2014

9:00 AM

Flat pack

Some facts about Glasgow’s Red Road Flats, built in 1968, which are to be demolished as part of the opening ceremony for the Commonwealth Games.
— The original plans were for four-storey maisonettes rather than tower blocks.
— At 31 storeys and 292 feet, the first blocks were the highest residential buildings in Europe when opened.
— The flats were clad in asbestos, which was later covered up.
— In 1980, two of the blocks were declared unfit for habitation by families, and
were let to students and the YMCA. Asylum-seekers followed from the 1990s

Qualified advice

The House of Commons select committee on science and technology said that BBC producers should need special permission before ‘interviewing non-experts on controversial scientific topics such as climate change’. How expert in scientific matters is the committee?
— Andrew Miller (chairman): former lab technician at Portsmouth Poly turned union official
— Jim Dowd: former telecoms engineer
— David Heath: degree in physiological sciences followed by career as an optician
— Stephen Metcalfe: runs family printing business
— David Morris: former hairdresser
— Stephen Mosley: chemistry degree from Nottingham University; career as IT consultant
— Pamela Nash: degree in politics from Glasgow University
— Sarah Newton: history degree from King’s College London, followed by career in marketing
— David Tredinnick: MBA from University of Cape Town followed by career as stockbroker and word processor salesman
— Hywel Williams: degree in psychology followed by career in social work
— Graham Stringer: degree in chemistry from Sheffield University followed by career as analytical chemist. The only member to dissent from the committee’s decision to clear the scientists involved in the Climategate scandal of 2009

Clearing the air

Britain was affected by smog. What are the most polluted cities on Earth, as measured in the mean concentrations of PM10 soot particles in the air?

per cubic metre
Ahwaz, Iran 372
Ulan Bator, Mongolia 279
Sanandaj, Iran 254
(London 29)

Source: WHO

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  • Matt Quinn

    Please be accurate…

    They were never the tallest flats even in Glasgow… They were however the highest urban dwellings – by ‘above sea level’ measurement – in Western Europe…

    Two buildings WERE indeed closed in 1980 following a devastating fire. One was let to the YMCA who operated it as a home for student nurses. The other was partially turned into a ‘halls of residence’ for the city’s universities…

    The rest of the building was taken out of the mainstream housing stock. A building manager was appointed, and it was she who made the letting decisions. The building was refurbished with carpeted foyer areas, full concierge (porter) service, CCTV-controlled access piped into every flat etc…

    Yuppie Towers they used to call it!

    Having grown up in the Red Road it was to that building I moved when I returned from London after training as a television cameraman. From what was a quite spacious flat I started what is now one of the longest-established video production companies in Scotland. – I had an office in one spare room, an edit suite in another and the boxroom was turned into a darkroom! – FAR from being unfit for habitation they were luxury flats; an experiment that worked too well for the mandarins at Glasgow City Council, who got rid of the building manager and started re-seeding the place with anti-social familes.

    The asbestos was never part of the cladding – it was deep inside the building’s structure protecting the steel frame; as is the case with many steel-framed buildings of the period. It was never ‘covered up’. Extra sealing was applied between the modular walls and cealings to ensure no asbestos dust from the cavities could migrate into the houses – This sealing consisted of stripping 3″ of wallpaper off the walls, applying scrim tape, and painting it over with plasticised emulsion!